Watkins Glen: RLR/Andersen Racing race notes

Donoso Finishes Eighth to Lead RLR/Andersen In Saturday's Firestone Indy Lights Race At Watkins Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., July 4 - There weren't any fireworks, but Pablo Donoso celebrated the Fourth of July by coming from 14th to eighth for ...

Donoso Finishes Eighth to Lead RLR/Andersen In Saturday's Firestone Indy Lights Race At Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., July 4 - There weren't any fireworks, but Pablo Donoso celebrated the Fourth of July by coming from 14th to eighth for RLR/Andersen Racing Saturday in the Corning 100 Firestone Indy Lights race at Watkins Glen International.

Donoso, of Santiago, Chile, drove the Andersen Racing/Allied Interior Products/Donoso LTDA No. 9 in the 30-lap/102-mile race.

Ali Jackson only had nine laps of practice to get acclimated to the 3.37-mile, 11-turn road course on Saturday morning due to flight delays getting to the Glen from his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He started 21st in the race after missing qualifying on Friday, but ended up 15th for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team with his Moyvalley Golf & Hotel Resort/Allied Interior Products No. 6.

Like Jackson, Mario Romancini was making his first start at the historic track. The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil qualified tenth in the RLR/Andersen Racing No. 5 sponsored by Andersen Racing, Revita Recycling, Win Brazil Marketing, Allied Interior Products and Lafarge North America. He got as high as ninth despite a lack of power almost as soon as the green flag waved. He drifted back to 13th before he coasted to a stop off the track at the exit of the Boot with 14 laps compete, bringing out the event's second full-course caution flag. The crew suspects a gearbox problem was the likely culprit. Romancini ended up 20th in the final rundown, but he's still second in the point standings.

The race was won by J.R. Hildebrand over polesitter James Davison and series newcomer Felipe Guimaraes.

Hildebrand now leads the point standings with 279 points to Romancini's 221; Wade Cunningham's 216, Sebastian Saavedra's 215 and Davison's 206.

Donoso ran in 14th place for the first four laps, and then moved up to 13th with five laps down by passing Mike Potekhen. Romancini dropped from tenth to 12th at that point. The two RLR/Andersen teammates ran together from lap six through 10, which included a yellow for James Hinchcliffe, who backed into a tire wall at the entrance to the Boot with eight laps down while he was running fourth.

Donoso moved from 12th to tenth between the restart on lap 10 and lap 11 by passing both Martin Plowman and Romancini. Romancini stayed in 13th until he stopped while working lap 15, which caused a full-course yellow during laps 16 and 17.

Donoso was still in tenth for the restart on lap 18, but he advanced to ninth on lap 19 by passing Gustavo Yacaman. He moved up to eighth with 27 laps down when Cunningham got onto the grass in Turn 11 while running sixth, which sent him head-on into a tire wall. That set up a one-lap dash to the checkered for the restart with 29 laps down. Donoso was still eighth on that restart but he ended up ninth on the last lap after an altercation with Yacaman under yellow. Donoso got eighth in the final rundown several hours after the race after Saavedra was penalized 30 seconds for blocking, which dropped Saavedra from fifth to 18th in the rundown.

Jackson received $2,500 and Romancini got $1,000 as bonuses from Firestone that are awarded via a blind, post-race draw by the top three finishers for three drivers who placed outside of the top 10.

Donoso's fastest race lap was a 1:38.8575 on lap 26. Romancini's was a 1:40.2024 on lap 13 of the 14 he ran. Jackson's fastest lap also occurred on lap 13, when he did a 1:42.6101.

The race is slated to be broadcast at 11 p.m. Eastern time Monday on VERSUS.

The next Firestone Indy Lights race is next Saturday, July 11, on the street course in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more information on that event, including live timing and scoring at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, see indycar.com/pro.

Post-race quotes follow:

Pablo Donoso: "My car was OK. It was better than it was in practice. Yesterday we had a really hard day. This is a different car than I drove in Iowa and I had a different engineer this weekend. When you try different cars and different engineers it is kind of hard in the beginning because every guy is different.

"But finally we did a decent job.  We improved a little bit and finished in
the top 10.  I'm not happy because I'd like to obviously be in the top five
or the top three.  I know I can do better than this, but this was only our
second race and thinking back to Iowa, we definitely did better today.  We
passed people on the track.  So I'm pretty happy about the job everybody did.

"It's good to be back with Andersen Racing. I drove for them in 2005 in Star Mazda. I wanted to put together a deal with Dan [Andersen] to do Indy Lights after Star Mazda, but we didn't have the budget. We always kept talking and trying though.

"It's good to be back with Dan. When I ran Star Mazda with him in 2005 it was one of the best years of my career. I think if we can run more races with the same car and the same people, we're going to be good.

"Mario had mechanical problems today but at the beginning we had a good fight together.

"I had a battle with a couple different drivers, like Ana Beatriz and Yacaman. I was up to eighth, and then there was a yellow flag for an accident. On the yellow flag Yacaman started touching me. Then he just hit me before one of the restarts, which caused me to lose some time and drop to ninth. I did not feel there was any call for that.

"In the end I got eighth after all."

Ali Jackson: "I like the track; I just needed more time on it. I'm tired from jet lag and my wrists are killing me because I haven't driven in two months.

"The car was pretty good. I had a constant battle the whole race with the Russian kid.

"This is my first race on a road course with Andersen Racing. We need to do a few minor things to get me more comfortable in the car, like we need to change the seat a little; just minor things.

"I'm looking forward to Toronto, where we hope to get all the circumstances right and finish in the top five."

Mario Romancini: "I just didn't have any power. We don't know exactly why yet, but it might have been a gearbox problem.

"It is very bad for us. We saw how it hurts you when you don't finish, like we did at Long Beach. I just really wanted to finish. I'm very disappointed.

"All we can do is fix the problem and try to do better at all the other races."

-credit: rlr/ar

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Pablo Donoso , Wade Cunningham , James Davison , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , Mike Potekhen , Martin Plowman , J.R. Hildebrand , Felipe Guimaraes , Ana Beatriz , Mario Romancini , Gustavo Yacaman